Another side to the Conroy Debate

Look, I’m not defending Minister Stephen Conroy on everything – but the fact is, he has to face some simply ridiculous questioning, and it’s this sort of thing that...

Look, I’m not defending Minister Stephen Conroy on everything – but the fact is, he has to face some simply ridiculous questioning, and it’s this sort of thing that can be taken out of context and ruin this whole filter debate.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, to Filter opponents – get your act together, you do yourselves more harm than good with just one stupid statement here or there.

An example follows…On Monday night, late in the evening, i sat at my PC watching Senate Estimates – rivetting stuff!

I happened apon it while Minister Conroy and some others were being questioned over the filter.  It’s the same night as the now infamous “Google and Facebook Attack” took place.

Well here’s a transcript of a peice I found amazing.  It’s not as stupid when read, but when I watched it I was appauled.

Senator Ludlam took the time to check whether EMAIL would be passing through a ‘censor box’:

Senator LUDLAM—I can put those to Mr Quigley. Just to wrap up, with personal communication such as email within a mandatory filter regime, and people accessing their email over a web protocol like Gmail or Hotmail or one of those, will that traffic be passing through a censor box?

Senator Conroy—As you well know, Senator Ludlum, this is a complaints based mechanism that deals with individual URLs, and continued attempts to pretend to the Australian public that their emails are going to be read are false.

Senator LUDLAM—I am not insinuating that. I just asked a question. If one of those links happens to be in an email, for example, a blocked link is in an email and somebody sends it to another party, will that be caught? Will that be picked up?

Mr Rizvi (Mr Abul Rizvi, Deputy Secretary, Digital Economy and Services Group) —The link itself is not the relevant point here. It will be the point at which the person tries to access the URL. That is the point at which they would receive the blocked page.

Senator LUDLAM—So, there is nothing scanning your email to see whether one of those blacklisted URLs is in it.

Senator Conroy—Nobody will be scanning anybody’s email. You know that very well and continuing even to suggest that is beneath you.

Senator LUDLAM—I think I asked a pretty straightforward question and it took you a moment to come up with an answer…

A few things.  Firstly, please – Senator Ludlam – are you telling me you didn’t know that your question isn’t even a real question.  EVERY peice of web traffic goes ‘through’ the filter – so of course while accessing your email (assuming it’s not a secure site) you will be going through a filter.  Secondly, to call it a ‘censor box’ is just childish.  In my opinion.

Secondly, am I to believe that Senator Ludlam didn’t KNOW that no single email page could be filtered, and that just by receiving a link or even sending a link to a banned site you couldn’t possibly be filtered. Kinda ridiculous, and Conroy had every right to think Ludlam was just pushing him for bait.

No single part of any proposal, document, discussion paper or otherwise has ever mentioned ‘scanning people’s emails’ – come on Senator Ludlam – stand up, walk away from these stupid inane questions and ask real questions about the filter if you oppose it.

Let’s be clear – if a page is blocked – say : http://sickfilthywebsite.website/disgustingcontent.html – and you email me that link, nothing will happen.  If when I receive that link i try clicking on it – I’ll get a message saying the page is blocked.  Simple?  I think so.  Right/Wrong – that’s a different debate!

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Opinion

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
One Comment
  • Adam
    27 May 2010 at 10:45 am
    Leave a Reply

    The questions Ludlum should have asked are:

    If someone sends prohibited content in an email attachment will it be filtered? No.
    So why the hell would you bother with a web filter?

    If someone accesses prohibited content through anything other than http will it be filtered? No.
    So why the hell would you bother with a web filter?

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